Mom and I at Clearwater Lake

As I write this, sitting at my office desk, my mother and sister are painting my kitchen.

Free labour, we joked with the guy who came to deliver J.’s and my new fridge this morning but, in truth, they offered.

I meant to get the kitchen painted, I told them over coffee, but the fall’s been so ridiculously busy. I even have the paint, I said.

Let us do it, they said, in unison.

They insisted.

I demurred.

I said: I don’t want you coming all the way from Ontario to do work on my house.

We want to, they told me, so what could I say?

I find it hard to receive. Easy to give, difficult to let people take care of me.

It’s something I’ve been thinking about, since my birthday’s coming up.

This is normally a day that I try to compress into regularity. I follow the same routine as usual: get up, get to work, squirm with guilt over all my undone tasks, feel bad about how far behind I am in my writing goals, etcetera.

This year, I’ve decided: screw that.

My sister and I out on a dog walk

My sister and I out on a dog walk

Apart from eagerly receiving whatever gift J. has for me (this is the same guy who gave me gorgeous, soft, cloud-printed fleece pyjamas for my 29th birthday, when he’d known me for less than two months), I’m going to spend the day taking care of myself.

I’m going to sink into All the Light We Cannot See, indulge in knitting for a few hours (a felted kitty pod for Griffy), pull on my down vest and take the dog for a couple of slow autumn walks.

In the evening, we won’t be going out.

My birthday is on the same day as our federal election, so I’ll be eating gluten-free pizza made by J. and watching the results roll-in once the polls close (and, yes, I’m hoping for the biggest birthday present EVER in that regard).

Life is too short, I realize, to demur.

So I accept. The gifts I can give myself (because aren’t those actually the most important?) and my mother and sister ushering me out of the kitchen, telling me to go write my blog post while they get to work, brushing a new colour over my walls.

Three days short of my birthday and my heart already feels full.